Editorial: College application fees should factor into students’ plans

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Editorial: College application fees should factor into students’ plans

Stanford University requires the highest application fee in the nation, $90.

Stanford University requires the highest application fee in the nation, $90.

Linda A. Cicero

Stanford University requires the highest application fee in the nation, $90.

Linda A. Cicero

Linda A. Cicero

Stanford University requires the highest application fee in the nation, $90.

Editorial Staff, Site Editors

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As those grand visions of admission into college are getting nearer and nearer for expectant high school seniors, it may be a good time for a reality check.

Students boldly announcing that they’re applying to 20 different schools could be underestimating one subtle but crucial detail: application fees. Before even having to hand over the money for tuition, housing, books, and other miscellaneous expenses, these preliminary charges can already put pressure on applicants’ families to make affordable college decisions.

While some have the means to apply to an unlimited number of places, this is not the case for all. Inability to cover the expense of applications should not be an indicator of someone’s desire to go to college.

In the fall of 2016, a U.S. News Survey of 960 colleges revealed that the most common price of an application was $50. Over half of the schools who charged at least $70 had an acceptance rate below 40 percent.

It’s reasonable to say that the more selective a school is, the higher payment it generally requires. For example, Stanford University poses a $90 fee to apply, with the Ivy League schools following closely behind: $85 for Columbia and $65 for Princeton, the lowest of the Ivies.

These contributions cover the cost of human specialists involved in the selection process. In addition, they show colleges that an applicant is probably serious about attending if they’re chosen.

While there are a number of reputable colleges that offer free applications, most seniors will face charges in other aspects of the process. These might include the money spent to take the SAT and/or ACT, preparing for these tests, sending their score reports, and applying for financial aid in the form of the College Scholarship Service Profile. Beyond their initial costs, they multiply as you add more colleges to your list.

Just because someone only plans on applying to four places, for example, doesn’t mean they wouldn’t apply to more if they could. With so many different portions that require payment, four schools may be their most cost-efficient method.

On a positive note, students from low-income families can be issued college application fee waivers from the College Board and the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC). Students who have caught the eyes of certain universities might also receive a waiver in the mail or online as encouragement to apply.

Although opportunities for aid exist, there are still limitations. For one, the College Board and NACAC each only allocate up to four waivers per low-income student. Not to mention that several middle class-income families in the Bay Area themselves are wary about affording education after high school.

Application fees are just one step of going to college. It’s up to a student and their family to decide how much they’re willing to spend, and those who are able to fund applications to a high number of schools are welcome to do so.

But before frowning upon those minimizing the number of colleges they’re applying to, take these overlooked costs into consideration, because they can pile up quickly. It may not express lesser ambition so much as a sensible reason for delegating their money in other proportions.

This editorial reflects the views of the Scot Scoop editorial board. This editorial was written by Sarah Cheung.

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